MapQuest Developer Blog

  • Promoting Females and Marginalized Students in STEM at T9 Hacks

    As developers within the Colorado tech space, our moral code includes the mighty responsibility of inspiring and providing critical tools needed to prepare the up-and-coming technology leaders of tomorrow.

    So, when we were approached to help sponsor a female and marginalized student focused hackathon, also taking place in our home state, it was a no brainer!

    We are extremely proud to be a sponsor of T9 Hacks, a 24-hour women's hackathon at the University of Colorado Boulder's ATLAS Institute on February 25-26, 2017.

    During the hackathon, we will be on-site representing with a crew of our top female developers. We'll be opening up our location-based APIs and mobile-mapping SDKs, while answering questions and helping teams kick butt.

    We'll also be handing out free t-shirts and stickers + sponsoring a grand prize of Plattan Wireless Headphones by Urbanears for each team member that creates:

    • An application/concept that uses location services in unique and exciting way
    • A finished product that empowers women in today's ever-changing world

    If you are, or know of, a university student or recent college grad that would love to get involved with this hackathon, head over to our T9 Hacks page for more information. From there, you can study up on our APIs and SDKs, sign up for a free account to access your AppKey, and register for the event.

    All skill levels are welcome!

  • Retirement Announcement: Leaflet v1.0-1.3 and Flash Map SDK, 6/6/17

    As part of an ongoing process to update our map stack, we are retiring a few of our older services. The depreciation of our Flash Map SDK & Leaflet v1.0-1.3 will occur on June 6, 2017.

    Not to worry! We aren't leaving you in the dark. Instead, take a look at our mobile map SDK and v2.2 of our Leaflet Plugins, with richer features and capabilities than ever before.

    Mobile Map SDKs

    We now offer modern, native mobile maps for iOS and Android devices. Our beautiful 64-bit maps help to enhance your overall engagement with your users. You can deliver a fully native mapping experience across all platforms, allowing customers to have a consistent and familiar experience with you and your brand.

    Our mobile iOS and Android SDKs can be downloaded directly from our site, with helpful documentation included.

    Leaflet v2.2

    The performance, consistency, and capabilities of our Leaflet Plugins are always progressing, making them an increasingly better alternative to our Flash Map SDK. The latest version, v2.2, includes:

    • Light and dark map styles
    • Updated satellite imagery, including a hybrid option with roady/city overlays
    • Improved drag routing for mobile devices
    • Default traffic route ribbon
    • Enhanced icons
    • Additional zoom levels: 19 and 20

    Those looking to migrate to our Leaflet Plugins, please reference this migration guide on our Developer Network and these helpful demos on our Leaflet Plugins to transition to our latest version, 2.2.

    Need additional support with the migration such as professional service support? Please feel free to contact us at support@mapquest.com.

  • Flying IoT-Enabled Drones with MapQuest APIs

    Recently, Dronesmith Technologies participated in an IoT-focused Mobile App Hackathon in New York City. More than 200 developers organized into 36 teams to build Internet of Things prototypes featuring hardware and software services provided by the event sponsors, including MapQuest.

    Our team at Dronesmith developed a concept of an IoT-enabled drone that is able to fly along a pre-planned route while detecting cell tower signal strengths through onboard sensors. This innovative capability provides cell network companies opportunities to monitor their networks and identify potential weak spots in their overall network coverage.

    With just a small fleet of drones, powered by APIs such as MapQuest's Directions API and the Dronesmith API, companies are able to increase operational efficiencies, exponentially improve product offerings and grow brand reputation.

    Watch a video of the drone in action below:

    To build out the solution, Dronesmith broke the development of the IoT-enabled drone down into a set of smaller, more digestible functions and features with the ability to:

    1. Determine and enter a pre-planned route
    2. See the drone moving on a map
    3. Base routing off of existing roadways
    4. Easily avoid large obstacles (i.e. buildings or bridges)

    This is where MapQuest's developer-friendly APIs and well-articulated documentation proved to be the perfect solution. Enter MapQuest's Directions API and Leaflet Plugins!

    Using the Directions API, we are able to enter customized, pre-planned routes for the drones to follow in order to get them from point a to b. We also input boundaries for our drone to avoid, such as large buildings and bridges.

    Using MapQuest Leaflet Plugins, specifically the OpenStreetMap tiles, we could then visualize a route for our drone to fly along. With this plugin, we easily displayed a beautiful map with the option of using a basic map, satellite and/or hybrid.

    The Dronesmith API handled all the remote command and control functions of the drone. In this scenario, we used a virtual drone built into our API to simulate actual drones flying over New York City. We also integrated the Twilio API, which created the ability to direct and control the drone via SMS text messaging, as well as the AirMap API, which allowed us to avoid protected airspace and have an awareness of other UAVs in the area. Scriptr, a JavaScript IoT development platform, allowed us to connect all of the features and functionality mentioned above into one cohesive solution in under eight hours.

    Our IoT-enabled drone prototype provides a starting point for those looking to develop a remote command and control system for drones using our RESTful APIs. While our application is targeted toward the telecommunications industry, the onboard sensors are interchangeable. IoT-enabled drones could be used in other applications, such as detecting noise or air pollution.

    Developers can easily integrate all their geospatial needs through MapQuest APIs. Not to mention, MapQuest's documentation makes their APIs easy to set up and use. Being able to simply call "MQ.route" and get results without a huge fuss pulls the app together quickly and painlessly, a necessity for creating a project on the fly at a hackathon.

    Have a vision? Access our complete code via Github and request a free Dronesmith API key to start building out your own solutions. Also, be sure to check out MapQuest's Directions API. Sign up for a free API key to help with all your geospatial needs, including directions, mapping, geocoding, traffic and more.

    We'd love to hear about your solutions. Comment below or visit us at dronesmith.io.

    Guest author Westin Conahan is the Director of Product at Dronesmith Technologies, where he focuses on developing user-friendly platforms for developers to quickly build solution-specific software applications.

  • Webinar Recap: SocialRadar POI Data

    Wishing you could have attended MapQuest's recent webinar on our acquisition of SocialRadar? Welp, you're in luck!

    View the slides from our recent webinar to learn about the cutting-edge location data, its key features and how to get your hands on it. Also hear how SocialRadar POI data can help you:

    • Grow your brand reputation & awareness with targeted messaging based on your user's exact location.
    • Upgrade your search experience & improve user experience with accurate POI data.
    • Increase operational efficiency with door-to-door directions. No more circling for hours to find a storefront's front door.

    Access a preview of the SocialRadar dataset available today through our Search API v2. You can also email sales@mapquest.com to get the conversation started about accessing a downloadable file.

  • New status message for Directions API

    In effort to provide our Directions API users additional information on why a requested route failed, the Directions API will be updated with a new status message on Tuesday, January 17.

    For time-dependent route requests in which the only possible path to the destination encounters a timed access restriction, the service will now provide a status message to let users know why the request resulted in no route. The purpose of the status message is to provide our customers with supplemental information on why a route was not generated.

    Previous maneuver notes:

    http://www.mapquestapi.com/directions/v2/route?key=KEY&timeType=1&doReverseGeocode=false&from=40.719469,-73.999462&to=40.746954,-73.995367

    New status message:

    http://beta.mapquestapi.com/directions/v2/route?key=KEY&timeType=1&doReverseGeocode=false&from=40.719469,-73.999462&to=40.746954,-73.995367

    This release will take place during the maintenance window on Tuesday, January 17 and we expect there to be no impact to your services. Additionally, this update requires no update on your end.

  • Huge news from MapQuest

    2017 is poised to be a big year for us here at MapQuest and we're more excited than ever for the year ahead! As we continue to grow and focus the direction of our business, we are excited to share with you that MapQuest will be moved out from under AOL and into Verizon's Product Innovation and New Business organization. MapQuest will continue to operate with a hyper focus on location and location data and we will be working with Verizon to combine their location assets within the MapQuest platform. This is a monumental transition for MapQuest, and as a valued customer, we are thrilled to invite you to be a part of this incredible opportunity.

    So what does this mean? Verizon has put a tremendous amount of resources and effort into products and services that utilize location services. Now, MapQuest's location platform will be the connective tissue, enhancing and connecting all of Verizon's investments in location and location signal data into one place. The result? Verizon's first Location Center of Excellence (COE). The COE will enable:

    • Further investment to enable rapid innovation in the geospatial industry;
    • Accelerated product development across all divisions of MapQuest;
    • Richer and more robust location data, enabling more strategic location-based business decisions.

    More information to come in the upcoming months but in case you were wondering, it's a pretty big deal :).

    Logistically, nothing will change in terms of how you or your team interacts with MapQuest or our employees. Our current offerings will continue to improve and MapQuest will continue to operate independently. We will remain headquartered in Denver, CO.

    Our partners and customers are among our most valuable assets and there is no doubt this move will accelerate our growth and significantly enhance our product development and product offerings.

    We thank you for being a valued partner and, as always, please reach out with any specific questions to sales@mapquest.com.

    Here's to a Happy New Year! We are more excited than ever about what 2017 will mean at MapQuest!

  • MapQuest University: Geocoding Everywhere

    The mapping industry is full of buzzwords. Each month, MapQuest University will help explore these terms and how you can improve your user experience through better understanding. The buzzword for this month is "geocoding." What is geocoding? What is the future of geocoding? We sat down with Seth Shaffer, Senior Software Engineer on our Geocoding team, and asked him to give us the rundown on geocoding.

    What is geocoding?

    Geocoding is the process of converting a given address (1060 W. Addison St., Chicago, IL 60613) into latitude/longitude pairs (41.947239, -87.655636). These geographical coordinates can then be used to place a marker on a map, to indicate location. Geocoding is the backbone of any and all mapping applications. mapquest university geocoding

    You rely on geocoding every time you get directions to and from a store, or friend's house. MapQuest relies on geocoding to ensure our users know, with a great degree of accuracy, how many more blocks they need to drive or walk to get to that concert venue, or how many miles it is from Denver to Chicago. You can also receive speed limit information and whether or not you're approaching a toll road. Good stuff, all around.

    MapQuest's Reverse Geocoding API also provides functionality to any number of businesses. Reverse geocoding can be used to track the delivery of anything from pizza to online merchandise. It's also an integral part of asset tracking, allowing companies to keep an eye on their trucks near and far.

    But what does the future hold for geocoding?

    Where we're going, we don't need roads

    Drones, and more importantly, drone delivery is taking off in a big way. Geocoding will be essential to helping these flying deliverers find their delivery location, since they won't be relying on mailboxes or house numbers. Drones don't have to rely on the traditional roads that we frequent, which means mapping is about to enter a whole new dimension.

    Imaginary roads near and far

    Have you ever wondered, to the exact mile, how far Helm's Deep was from The Shire? Or how long the Kingsroad was, starting at Winterfell and ending at King's Landing? One of the fun applications of geocoding is creating highly detailed maps of fictitious places. Just because we're never going to step foot in Waterdeep doesn't mean we can't have an interactive map showing us where it is in relation to Baldur's Gate. Plot routes, plan road trips, for places near and far. Because awesome.

    Augmenting our reality

    Recently, an app made quite the pop culture buzz, allowing users to catch fictitious monsters in our neighborhoods and daily commutes. You might have heard of it. Geocoding is a central functionality with all augmented reality applications. By harnessing geocoding, creative applications can continue to find ways to brighten our everyday lives, through our mobile devices.

  • MapQuest + SocialRadar Webinar

    MapQuest is now proud to offer SocialRadar's highly accurate authenticated location data through the PlaceKit solution. Learn about how this dataset's precision helps debunk some of the most significant problems facing POIs today through a joint webinar.

    Join us Tuesday, December 13, 2016 from 10:00am - 10:45am MT or Thursday, December 15, 2016 from 10:00am - 10:45am MT to learn about how to get your hands on the latest technology.

    Webinar meeting details:

    - Audio Dial In #: 703-265-6000
    - MeetingID: 8864035
    - Webinar URL: https://aol.webex.com/meet/lcolston15

    Add to your calendar:

    Save the Date - December 13, 2016 at 9:00am PST
    Save the Date - December 15, 2016 at 9:00am PST

  • MapQuest acquires SocialRadar

    We're thrilled to announce our recent acquisition of SocialRadar, a cutting edge location and mapping company.

    SocialRadar provides the industry's most accurate POI dataset by providing the exact latitude and longitude of every business storefront and entry point. Using street level imagery, algorithmic automation and human verification, this dataset's precision helps debunk some of the most significant problems facing POIs today. MapQuest is proud to offer this highly accurate authenticated location data through SocialRadar's PlaceKit solution.

    MapQuest customers now benefit from:

    • Precise POI placement. PlaceKit provides the most accurate and complete business listings including the store location, placement of doors, business footprint polygon and more for POIs across the US. Better data = better user experience, better targeted marketing and more accurate analytics around visitation
    • Flawless directions. No matter how your customers travel, our augmented POI data makes for unbeatable directions, getting your customers to your front door faster.
    • Quicker answers. With the industry's most accurate POI database, search results will be more reliable than ever. This future initiative is set to kick off in 2017.

    Check out how MapQuest's POIs from SocialRadar now stack up against a few other POI providers:


    To learn more about how to access this new POI data, contact us at sales@mapquest.com.

  • How to Win a Hackathon - A Judge's Perspective

    This year, MapQuest has been lucky enough to participate in many nationally recognized hackathons, as both sponsors and judges. As Product Manager for our Developer Services team, I took some notes throughout each hackathon to find consistent themes across winning teams. Here's how to win:

    1. The best demo wins, nothing else really matters

    Winning teams build a one- to two-minute demo that runs properly and shows original ideas and value to the end user. They carefully build and practice the demo while they are developing the application. Throughout judging, we saw many teams spend too much time on long introductions or unnecessary technical details, leaving little or no time for the actual demo; it's best to simply state the use case, explain the technology used and launch into the demo.

    Pro-tip: memorize and time the presentation several times during the night as the application changes.

    Judges and audience members tend to be biased toward pretty and modern user interfaces. If an ugly or confusing user interface masks great technology, then no one will be able to look past the rough edges.

    2. The demo must be real

    Code must run, and no screenshots or conceptual bits are allowed. Many hackathons require that your code be posted on the official hackathon website for review. Yet even if your code is not posted somewhere, the judges will usually take a peek at what's going on behind the scenes. Faking a demo is about the worst crime you can commit in the developer community.

    3. Form a strong team early

    You should spend most of your time at the beginning of the hackathon building a strong team. Form a consensus on the big issues. Everyone should agree on a development ecosystem and decide how to divvy up the work from there. Will you use agile techniques? Which tools you will use? Make early design decisions around the look and feel for the demo. Remember that for a time constrained project like a hackathon, "the perfect is the enemy of the good."

    4. Watch the clock

    Have some checkpoints throughout the hackathon. If you feel you are behind schedule, start pulling features out. Remember: everyone on the team should be sharing the workload – a lone superstar is not very effective for hackathons. Remind your team that you will need more time than you imagine to practice and polish the demo.

    5. Zig when others zag

    Each hackathon will have a few extremely popular technologies that most teams will focus on (robots, voice response units, drones, etc.). We suggest picking a less popular technical focus or combining a couple of technologies. At larger events, judges can review up to 150 demos – your goal is to stand out and stand out well. You need to be different to be remembered.

    6. Leverage the sponsors

    Most hackathons have prizes for the best overall demo, as well as prizes for using specific sponsor vendor applications, tools or services. It's okay to combine some sponsor apps to double or triple your chances. You might even win two prizes! Be sure to hang out with the sponsor's technical teams. Not only can they help you understand their APIs hardware or documentation, but they may also suggest clever use cases for their technologies. Take advantage of their help! Check back during the night to see if you are on the right track. If you get to know the sponsors they will remember you during the judging and may root for you!

    7. Don't let other surrounding technology overshadow your solution

    If your solution involves compelling new technology (i.e. robots or drones), keep in mind that most people in the audience will fixate on the new hardware, especially if they have never seen it before. If you must work with flashy technology make sure your demo is the star, not the hardware. Conversely, if you are building hardware, try to clean up loose wires and connections to make it look more like a finished product.

    8. It's not all about winning

    Hackathons are inspiring and competitive, but remember: you don't have to win to have fun. Take the time to network, meet new people and explore new technologies. A one-minute demo in front of your peers and a panel of judges is a great way to learn how to be persuasive, get your point across and prove yourself within the industry. You'll need all those skills at your future startup!

    MapQuest is a proud guest technology partner at the Denver Broncos Tackle STEM Colorado All-Stars Hackathon this weekend, November 18-20. We will be opening up our APIs and SDKs, answering questions, mentoring teams, handing out tons of free swag and giving away an awesome best-selling, Wi-Fi camera drone for each team member of the winning MapQuest team. It's not too late to register – sign up here!